A Culture of Care

Article featured in the CMS Foundation Yearbook
Malacy Williams, Principal:

“Throughout the pandemic I have learned that we (WHA staff) are resilient throughout the many obstacles with remote learning and many changes from remote to in-person. The staff at Westerly Hills Academy adjusted and did what was best for students and their families. We’ve had high expectations for teaching and learning during remote learning. Having a growth mindset and being a champion of hope helped our staff persevere throughout the year through self-care, reflection, and building a culture of care for each other and our families.

First Presbyterian Church has been instrumental in the support of our school’s efforts to engage families during the pandemic by actively involving their church members.  Community Coordinator Heather Herring assisted the school by providing incentives for chronic absenteeism and leading the creation of a school pantry to help alleviate hunger among families during the pandemic.  She met monthly with the WHA team to determine the needs of families, recruited virtual Heart Math and Augustine Literacy tutors, and assisted with fulfilling the needs for food items with weekly donations and a school-wide food pantry. More than 330 families were provided assistance from the school’s pantry during the pandemic.

Heather Herring, First Presbyterian Church:

“Our church has partnered with Westerly Hills Academy for 21 years, and we were hoping to have a big 20th anniversary celebration with students, staff and families at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Due to the pandemic, we were unable to hold that celebration, but we instead established a food pantry at the school (in partnership with the school administration) to honor our 20 years of partnership.

In a time when we have felt helpless to a large degree, since we have been unable to volunteer in the building or spend face to face time with teachers and students, it has been wonderful to know that our church has been able to support Westerly Hills Academy families in a way that met a real need.  Church members have volunteered to contribute food, deliver food to the school, and assist the school with bagging food and delivering to families (contact-free!).  Families can access the pantry via the school’s website. We look forward to being back in the building when we can, but it is nice to know we are doing something to support our families in the meantime.”

As you may recall, FPC established a food pantry at Westerly Hills Academy in November 2020 to honor our 20 year partnership with the school. We are thrilled that the project was selected as a feature in the CMS Foundation yearbook!  If you are interested in being a part of this ministry, you may contribute food on a monthly basis or help with shopping and delivery. Contact Heather Herring to learn more.

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